Here comes the sun! Summer employment issues

The sun is shining and the British summer has finally arrived – but what comes with it is a series of legal summer employment issues surrounding holidays, hot weather and dress codes.

Keep your cool
We all want a comfortable working environment, so when things really start to heat up (like today) many employees might start to feel like it’s just too hot to carry on working.

However, the Workplace Health & Safety Regulations 1992 are pretty vague when it comes to defining a temperature where it’s just too hot to continue working. All that they say is that the temperature must be ‘reasonable’.

So to try and keep the temperature down and staff happy it’s a good idea to open windows, grab some fans and have a plentiful supply of free ice lollies and cold drinks stashed in the kitchen if possible.

Relaxed dress codes
If your employees are really feeling the heat, consider relaxing your company dress code wherever possible. Now I’m not for a minute suggesting that you allow staff to dress like they’re off to a pool party, but allow them some choice in attire so they’re more comfortable.

Tailored dark coloured shorts, linen trousers and short sleeved shirts are still smart enough for the office whilst being a lot cooler than your standard office wear. Have a chat with your team and see if you can come to a comprise on the issue.

Holiday requests
At one time or another staff are going to want time off to enjoy the summer months, but what do you do if everyone is clamouring for the same dates?

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, employers are not obliged to agree to an employee’s request to take holiday at a particular time, unless their contract of employment states otherwise.

Therefore, try to be as fair as you can with employees and put your own holiday policy in place that covers how you will prioritise leave requests, when requests must be provided by and how these requests should be made.

Unauthorised time off
Of course, if your employees have booked time off in advance then that’s fine – but you might encounter the odd unauthorised absence during the summer months.

If you’ve refused time off and the worker has taken it anyway then don’t start disciplinary action straight away, it’s important that you find out if their absence was for genuine reasons first.

If it was due to ill health, family reasons and a medical appointment then fine, let it go. However, if they had one too many at a BBQ the night before or booked a last minute holiday without the appropriate leave being approved then it’s time to begin the disciplinary process.